Need ideas on how to heat water this winter for a large flock.

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Mims, Oct 5, 2016.

  1. Mims

    Mims Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2013
    West Texas
    Hey all. With winter coming, I am working on ideas in my head on how to heat the chicken's water this winter.

    I have a flock of roughly 80-100, plus turkeys. I also have a LGD in with my flock. Aquarium heaters are out. I have large tanks in my house, and they are not designed to maintain a constant heat in cold temps.

    I've been toying with the idea of the large plastic 55 gallon drums, and a stock tank heater dropped in. I don't have electricity in my coop, but I do in the barn next to it, and can run an extension cord to it. I will also be keeping the water container(s) in the coop. I have great ventilation, and more than enough room.
    I was planning on using the little square nipples on the sides of the drum, but any thoughts on how I can water the dog off the same drum?

    I've also thought about heat tape, but honestly, I know nothing about it, or how it works.

    I'm in west Texas, but near the Panhandle. We don't have long, harsh winters, but it does get below zero, and last year ice storms knocked out power, water (we're on a well) and heat for 6 days.

    There is no way in heck I can lug out enough water for the flock and the dog on a daily basis.

    Any thoughts?

    What's worked well for you? If you use a stock tank heater, what brand do you recommend?
  2. HeyHouse

    HeyHouse Just Hatched

    Oct 3, 2016
    Here in Africa electricity is very expensive and unreliable, so I always try to think of no-electricity solutions first. So I can't recommend any heaters, but maybe these ideas can help:

    So, I would take your 55 gallon drum idea and cover it with compost. The heat from the compost will warm your water.

    For your dog, you can attach a T to the drum output and run two lines - one for the chickens and one for the dogs. You'll want to put a main shutoff directly at the drum and leave the secondary taps open when not in use so they don't freeze.

    Also, I keep a reserve of 5000 liters of rainwater that I catch from my roof. Electricity or not, I've always got backup water for the animals and garden. Is that legal in West Texas? Might be something to consider for you!
    1 person likes this.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    My situation is too different from yours for me to offer much help. Your being on a well really makes it rough. After our ice storm a few years ago I got a generator to run some stuff in case of another power failure that lasts for days. A generator may be a part of your solution. If you use a generator to provide heat the size of the generator really goes up. But a small one could run that well pump and keep your freezer and refrigerator running.

    I’m on public water so I installed a frost-free hydrant so I always have a water supply near the coop. The coldest it normally gets here is a few degrees below zero Fahrenheit, probably comparable to you.

    I have electricity at the coop but I don’t use it to heat the water. But I don’t have the number of animals you do. I use black rubber bowls available at Tractor Supply. If they freeze I just bang them until I break the ice out, they are rubber so they don’t break. Then I refill. If you set them where the sun can hit them the water will stay thawed in some pretty cold temperatures. Of course the sun does not shine at night and we have some really cloudy days too, still it works for me. You might consider a black rubber bowl for the dog if not for the chickens. It’s how I water mu dogs in the winter. In the summer I swap out white bowls to help keep the water cooler and move them to the shade.

    Hopefully someone closer to your situation can provide some ideas. You may need to get a little ingenious. Good luck!
  4. AlienChick

    AlienChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2010
    Glasgow, KY
    I don't have as many birds as you have, but in the winter I've often had to place a ligthbulb in the hole of a cinder block and place the waterer on top of the block. I have electricity in the barn and run an extension cord to the lightbulb.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I forgot to mention, if you are going to run electricity from your barn to the coop, consider putting a breaker box in the coop to provide extra circuits or breaker boxes at both ends and hard wire it. That’s going to be safer than an extension cord. That way you can add lights, which can come in really handy. A different circuit to plug in a power tool can really help too. I once made the mistake of putting just one circuit in a workshop with lights and wall outlets on that circuit. Every time I started a saw the lights went out. Having separate circuits can help keep you from overloading a breaker too.
  6. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 7, 2016
    Saint Louis, MO
    Lixit makes watering nipples for dogs.
    1 person likes this.

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